What is my attitude toward giving?

Saint Paul tells us in Philippians 2:5 that we are to have among ourselves the same attitude as Christ.  He then goes on to quote the beautiful Christian hymn believed already to be in use at the time of Paul’s writing.  Namely that, Christ, though God, out of obedience to the Father, emptied himself of his own will to become a servant for all, even to the point of death on the cross.         

Paul is telling us that, to have the attitude of Christ means, we are to live out our daily lives in union with Christ, imitating him in all things by serving one another.  As Jesus tells us in Mark’s Gospel: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me”.  Paul says the way we do this is to have the same attitude as Christ, emptying ourselves of our will, obediently accepting the Father’s will no matter the cost by being a servant to the needs of our fellow brothers and sisters.

The hymn in Philippians quoted by Saint Paul say that because of Jesus’ obedience to the Father, his sacrifice on the cross to save mankind, God highly exalted him and “bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11).

As Paul has already told us, we are to confess Jesus is Lord not only with our lips but with every action of our lives by having his attitude in all things.  There are four principal areas of everyday life that we can assume the attitude of Christ and confess Jesus is Lord: money, sex, power and, humility towards God and others.  Our discussion here will focus on just one of these areas, our attitude towards money.

One of the best homilies I have ever heard on our attitude towards our financial resources was given by a Lutheran minister.  He held up his bible and said, “This is my Sunday bible, the word of God”.  Everyone was quick to acknowledge, yes father, it is.  He then held up his checkbook and said, “This is the bible by which I live my life every other day of the week.”  It was a powerful way to illustrate how our attitude towards the financial resources God so graciously blesses us with is a living example of how we put into practice the word of God we profess on a Sunday morning.

A recent homily on EWTN focused on a series of “isn’t it strange”, statements regarding the way sometimes look at things in light of our call to “have the attitude of Christ.”  He said, “Isn’t it strange how putting $20 in the Sunday plate offering can seem like so much and how $20 at the grocery store or gas station seems like so little.”

When it comes to the having a Christ-like attitude towards our finances, the Church gives us four basic principles to consider:

1.      Out of my love for God, and in gratitude for the countless blessings he has bestowed on me, I will give back to the Lord the first portion of all that he has given me.  This first principle serves as the foundation for all the rest.  For when we put God first in our thinking, everything else seems to flow naturally.  Like every other aspect of Christian discipleship, we can always come up with excuses as to why we can’t put God first in our finances: I have a mortgage to pay, or the car payment is due, etc., etc.  But, who of us would want God to respond to our needs with “leftovers”?  When we put God first, he will provide for all we need.  “So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself” (Matthew 6: 31F).

2.      Recognize that, like Christ who, out of his love for us, gave the ultimate sacrifice of his life, true love always involves a sacrifice.  Therefore, the gift I give of my first blessings from the Lord should be a sacrificial gift“When he looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.  He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood” (Luke 21:1F).

3.      Realize that the principle of tithing – giving back to the Lord 10% of my income – is the way I make my financial gift sacrificial. (Genesis (14:20), Deuteronomy 14:22).  This is not an outdated principle (Malachi 3:8).  God still expects us to honor him with our tithes.

How I allocate my tithe is another matter to consider.  Generally, an accepted practice is to give at least half of my tithe to my parish’s general collection and half to other collections for building funds, Annual Catholic Appeal and other charities of interest to me.  The concept of giving at least half of my tithe to the general collection at the parish is based on the fact that my parish is my immediate “Catholic” family and I should assist my immediate family’s needs first.

4.       Finally, I need to remember that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7).  I will consider my envelope as a wrapping for my gift.  And, with the attitude of Christ, I deposit it prayerfully and joyfully into the collection basket as an expression of my faith, an outward sign that I chose to give glory to God not only with my lips but with every aspect of my life.

We also need to recognize that God does not need our money rather we need to give to God as an outward expression of the love and thanksgiving we have for all he has done and continues to do for us.  We give because we want to have the attitude of Christ who became a servant for all by giving his life for us on the cross out of obedience to the Father.

The Lord asks us to prayerfully consider if the attitude I have towards my giving is as Christ-like as he wants it to be.  Am I giving God the glory he deserves by putting him first in all things, especially in my giving?  by Deacon Frank J. Mercardante